In Chapter 7 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Mark Graham "What Has It Meant for You to Get Promoted to Managing Editor at VH1?" Graham talks about his recent promotion from senior editor and how his new role at the network ties into executing the network's digital strategy. His VH1 role revolves around three pillars: 1) support VH1 television shows with online content; 2) bring pop culture levity to celebrity culture; 3) build out the VH1 music community.
Mark Graham is currently a managing editor at VH1, an MTV Networks company. Previously Graham worked in editing and writing roles at New York Magazine and Gawker Media. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English.
Erik Michielsen: What has it meant for you to get promoted to managing editor at VH1?
Mark Graham: It’s been a real challenge because I’m not narrowly focused on one specific area of entertainment coverage, I’m sort of spread out over 3 and helping our writers and teams of people who manage each of those sites really sort of laser in on coverage, things that people are talking about, ways to present content that are fun and interesting and sharable to people. I’ve held the managing editor title in different capacities before. I was a managing editor at a website called defamer.com where multiple writers reported in to me and I helped sort of set the editorial tone and framework.
The cool thing about my new role as managing editor at VH1 is that it’s not just one particular channel that we’re covering—and by channel, I mean the channel of coverage not a channel on your television set. We have 3 primary what we call verticals that we’re—that I’m in charge of managing, one being our shows, so all of our content that appears on linear which is television, all of our shows, we support those digitally, whether that be, you know, recapping episodes, pulling out great information that happens in those episodes through animated gifs or things of that nature, video compilations, really sort of delving into that and helping make our readers feel like they’re actively engaged and building a community of people who are interested in our shows and talking about them on a deeper level other than just sort of passively watching them on TV. That’s one area that’s really exciting for me.
Another one that we deal in is the celebrity-sphere, which is a very crowded marketplace. And what we’re trying to do with celebrities is really sort of leverage VH1’s strengths in terms of list making and bringing a real sort of fun sense of popular culture to celebrity coverage which sometimes sort of a stale feel, there’s lots of people who are covering celebrities they don’t always necessarily do it in a very interesting way. So we’re trying to bring some levity and fun into the celebrity-sphere.
And the 3rd sort of area that I’m responsible for is music coverage. VH1 has a rich history in music, be that through original shows like VH1 Storytellers or Unplugged, or helping to launch new emerging artists through a franchise we have called You Oughta Know. You know, really helping to sort of build out our relationship with people particularly in the social space and getting to—getting them to interact with VH1 as a place that they know and they trust and brings them good recommendations and as for people who don’t necessarily have a lot of time in their lives to discover new music, we wanna help be a place to, you know, really bring that sort of communal experience back to music that is not happening as much because of the way people consume music these days through their iPods. There—you know, Top 40 radio is shrinking in terms of its relevance importance, we wanna be a voice that helps people discover new music. That’s been a real—it’s been a great challenge and a lot of fun, something that’s wholly different than my other experiences in the past.